Day 13, 26/7: St Etienne de Tinee - Monaco
Nicky and I walked up above Douans early in the morning. My plan was to take off on the South face just above the village of Isola. But not too early, and not too late to be able to fly as far as I could in the Sospel’s valley. In summer, it’s impossible to fly futher South than Sospel, because of the sea breeze. I knew that it would be very technical even to land in Sospel.
As the race with Boxi was very tight, it was very important to not fuck up the end of the flight. A little mistake could - for either of us - make us loose the ranking and I didn’t want to lose!!!
At the top of the mountain, the wind was gusty, from the North at 20-30 km/h. It wasn’t possible to launch from where I wanted. I changed of spot and walked to an other place, facing West. The place was a sort of rocky plateau with a sharp edge. Not ideal, but still I didn’t have a choice. I tried once, and as I inflated the glider, it blew me in the air… 5m high and then I crashed behind the take off. I did another one of these and eventually managed to take off. One of the 2 crashes broke my EAST. So while I was flying during the afternoon, none of the RedBull crew or any of the people following the race on the web, could understand why I was still hanging on take off whilst Boxi was flying towards Monaco.
Despite the fact I’m from the area, the route I took was a route I had never flown in reality. It was a route I had worked out from the maps and my knowledge, but that was all. In fact, it was exciting to fly a new route, on new mountains so close to home !!! I knew that the important point would be on Cime du Diable : There, I would have to climb as high as I could. After that, the mountains change into hills, the thermals stops and the sea breeze blows from the South and the valleys are narrow with lots of trees … Above the Cime du Diable, I worked the thermal as long as I could and left in the direction of Sospel. Knowing the area, I knew that even when you feel high, a glide is never surely done unless you have completely finished it. The sea breeze is the reason why, it catches you suddenly, and when you’re in it, your flight is finished !!!
I was therefore in my harness, trying to optimize my glide the best I could when Nicky - through the radio - told me that Boxi was at 20km from the goal … I looked at my GPS and I was at 26km !!! “Damn ! That is a bad surprise”. I didn’t know that he managed to fly pass me, without noticing him. I really thought I was miles ahead and that I’ll finish the race without getting stressed out about him … I really had to not fuck up this glide towards Sospel. I managed, in few very tense minutes, to stay above a bad ridge and glided further South than Sospel. I was trying to glide the furthest that I could glide… I had spotted a field and was heading for it, when at the last second, I hit a strong gust of sea breeze which stopped me completely and even made me fly backwards … I was 15m above trees, with a big power line justto one side!!! I landed or crashed, whichever it was… in a little gap just big enough for the span of my glider, right next to the power line. “Fucking hell!!!” : Even until the last second of flying, it has been really stupid.
A guy who had been watching me falling from the sky from his garden, told me off because “I scared him”. I explained that I was fine, so no worries… I asked him about the local paths to go to the take off of Monaco and confirmed what I had seen from the air. A shortcut was possible from the Castillon pass. I ran up to the pass, missed the path and ran around for a couple of stressful minutes, thinking “Boxi will overtake me, I’m sure he’s just there somewhere on the right path”. At this stage my brain wasn’t really working properly anymore: Full stress, hypoglycemia from no food since the morning, plus I was starting to pay for having pushed the last 12 days.
I ran along a path in the direction of St Agnes, a little village above the Mediterranean sea. What I didn’t know is that my mates from Ozone had driven there to meet me. What a great surprise!!! Having been running or flying in the middle of the mountains for 2 weeks, without seeing anyone, my mind switched in to another world. It was a nice welcome back home!!! These few minutes were very good for me, but I had to carry on to Gorbio, just before the last climb to the final point, the end of my trip, of the adventure and of my pain…
The last couple of hundred meters to make the top were very hard. Imagine it’s the beginning of August (the hotest summer for the last 50 years), it’s 4 p.m, I’m on the South face at 300-400m of altitude on a blue sky day. In reality, I think I climbed it very quickly, as I arrived on take off as quickly as the RedBull crew who drove from Gorbio… Some more of my friends were on launch, waiting for my arrival. I described briefly how I felt to them : “I’m fucking dead !!!”. The feelings of pleasure and satisfaction grew in me slowly. It didn’t switch on immediately when I arrived on the take off of Mt Gros. The main thing was that my body started to release the pressure of the race: I had made it, I had beaten Boxi!!!
I flew down in the very smooth air, typical of the area at this time of the year, enjoying every second of this gorgeous view, of the ocean. I landed on the blue carpet, at the top of a cube of concrete, where all the cameras and journalists were waiting for our arrivals. It was lucky for them that all 3 of us arrived on the same day.
That was it!!! The 12 days have been long and quick at the same time. That was a strange feeling. The fact that I was really physically and mentaly knackered made me not realize immediately what was going on.
The only thing I was sure about is that I was looking forward to some good rest and to chilling out for the next few days. In fact it was the first time ever that I felt like I will enjoy doing nothing at all… Everything made me feel like I was in heaven. I went for a swim in the ocean after my landing the water was like a caress on my body. I could walk very slowly, not worry about anything, I was in slow motion, looking at the life as if it was something going on around me and I wasn’t part of all this general rush!
Simple things gave me so much pleasure, like the first meal we had that evening. The bed where was able to sleep in the hotel in Monaco. Laying in bed the next morning, and doing nothing all day long … These things which are probably nothing in your eyes, were the most beautiful things that I could expect after this thrilling race.
Started day at 6:30. Took off at 11:55. Finish day at 17:30
Total flying 2h05, 60km
Total walking 7h35, 2100m up, 20.2km
Max altitude 3356m
Dav’s Race Summary
TOTAL of 993km actually flown and walked
76.7% have been flown
762.5km flown in 41h35
230.7km and 17.360m up walked, in 73h05.
AVERAGE per day
58.7km and 3h12 to fly
17.8km, 1336m up and 5h37 to walk
|Average per day